Former members of The Chariot and Zao, Joey Husley and Roy Goudy respectively, have started a new electronic rock band called Minor Crisis. Their debut full-length release is set to be released this Fall, but Minor Crisis released two b-side tracks, released and named exclusively for the magazine.
So tell me about how the band Minor Crisis was formed. Obviously most people will know that Roy (Goudy) started Zao and Joey (Husley) started The Chariot. Tell me about how you all met and how you were formed.
Jeff: I met Roy, going on … How long has it been? Twelve years?
Roy: It was 1998 when I moved to Atlanta, so —
Jeff: So 1998 then — I met Roy, and we were going to the same church at that point. We played some music together for about four or five years?
Roy: Yeah, 1998-2004, technically.
Jeff: So then Roy moved back to Ohio, and shortly after that. I met Joey and Chris. We had the opportunity to play some music together also, for about a two year span. Prior to meeting those two, Roy and I had goofed around, trying to make a band, or make something official out of it. We never could really find the right pieces.
It all kind of disbanded after Roy moved back to Ohio, but when I met Chris and Joey, it popped back in my head. Through some other opportunities I had (come up), I (ended up doing) electronic music. I produce electronic music, and I’ve been doing that around Atlanta for 14 years. I was playing some shows that incorporated some of the Autumn + Colour bands (Minor Crisis’s label), as well as DJing in between them. They approached me about doing an album of electronic remixes; I really wasn’t interested in that, but I said I could put a band together, and they provided me with the opportunity to chase that down. So I called everyone to see if they’d be interested, and it was perfect timing because nobody had anything at that moment that was tying them up.
What kinds of elements from your previous bands are you bringing into Minor Crisis?
Joey: At the very beginning when The Chariot started, we had a hard sound, but it had a groove to it — it wasn’t your average metal, hardcore music. We actually, in our practices, thought about how we could annoy people with the noises we make. And through those annoying noises, I would lay down whatever beat to keep it in a groove. Since then, The Chariot — of course I’m not with them now — has changed over time to where they are what they are now. They’re amazing. But for me as a drummer, I learned to keep in the pocket and keep that groove. Having fun is important to me. So with the elements of having the DJ and the electronic-type stuff, with the way Roy works magic with his pedals and stuff, it just makes my job actually a lot easier than most. I can just fall back and enjoy myself.
Roy: For me, I always enjoyed playing aggressive-sounding material, and it’s kind of odd because I’m such a laid-back, mellow guy. I find it really easy to create really aggressive, driving guitar stuff, just off the cuff. So when Jeff asked me to do this, I told him I thought it sounded like a blast. Since I left Zao, I’ve only really been involved in mellower music. I have my own band up here in Ohio that I front, and I write a lot of mellow stuff, and, honestly, I listen to a lot of mellow stuff. When I play, that’s an outlet for what naturally comes out of me. I haven’t had an outlet for that in forever.
So Jeff asked me and I said, “Sure, that sounds like a blast.” The first few files I sent him, he was really excited about it. It seemed like a great match. I knew his style, anyway, because we spent several years together, and I knew Joey from the past. We had gone to some shows together, but I never really had an opportunity to play with him until recently, and it was nice to go down there to Atlanta and play, reconvene with everybody. I found that our styles really mesh well together. He’s one of the most enjoyable drummers I’ve ever played with. From my own perspective, I think I help add that aggressive, gnarly edge to it, to kind of round out the electronic part. It seems like a really cool blend between what Jeff does, the electronic aspect, and what Joey and I are doing, more of the driving analog part.
What would you say is the mission of Minor Crisis? What does success look like for you?
Roy: Jeff, that’s yours.
Jeff: Ultimately for me, I’d say the mission behind Minor Crisis is — this is coming from the background of someone who’s played bass guitar, played heavy rock and roll, metal and all that analog (not digital) — I’ve always considered myself an appreciator of the purest form of those, and I don’t stray too far from a particular sound or vibe that runs through it. To (do the opposite), all the way on the other side (of the spectrum), to also having 14 years of making underground dance music — which is a totally different vibe… It’s a totally different set of people you’re presenting your product to, essentially. The mission is to take the two of those and make them one, and be able to do that without it being cheesy. There’s currently a lot of hype around electronic music — almost like the ’90s when rock and rap were fusing together, with Limp Bizkit and Korn — trying to avoid seeming like you’re chasing something along those lines… I think it’s working so far with what we’ve been able to put together. We don’t feel like it’s too much of one or too much of the other.
Where did the band name come from?
Roy: For years, I’ve kept a list of band names, kind of as my own inside joke. They weren’t meant to be real names; they were just phrases I would hear in conversation, a certain combination of words, and I would always think to myself, “I’m going to put that on the list later.” It was just ridiculous stuff, like Turkey Grenade, Crotch Rocket — just stupid stuff. But once in a while, there’d be one that was really interesting. So I went back to this list of about 50 names when Jeff asked us all to contribute a few. Minor Crisis was one of them. We just kept voting until we rested on that one. I think it’s the coolest thing ever, that the name came off of my list of joke band names. I just happened to pick out one of the cool ones.
Joey: I’m kind of a fan of Tokyo Grenade.
Roy: No, Turkey! Turkey Grenade.
Joey: I’m a fan of that too.
Jeff: Actually I haven’t heard of Tokyo Grenade; that’s kind of cool.
Joey: Let’s start a side project.
Since you guys are so new, I haven’t even heard any full music yet. There are a few clips on SoundCloud, and I loved the “Seven Nation Army” cover. What was the inspiration behind covering that?
Jeff: Honestly, kind of like the band names, it’s different how we go about making the music so far. We’re looking forward to getting this part done and behind us, getting the (completed) music out there, and being able to all get together in one spot and play the stuff. We go about it in a very democratic process, with me sitting in Atlanta, and we’ll come up with an idea. It bounces out in pieces, and the pieces all come back in, and I construct all those pieces together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, until we’ve got the final track. We did the same thing when we did the cover song. We just bounced out a request, and everyone sent in various songs over a week or two, and we kept voting it down to that track right there.
There’s another track called “Sideways” that features more electronic elements, focusing on the beat more, and the vocals kind of take a back seat. Is that what we can expect from Minor Crisis?
Jeff: It’s more on a per song basis. There’s an overall feel to the music and an overall sound as to what the actual track is trying to convey. If there’s more of a vocal telling you something, or more of a focus on a simple idea, we will share our emotion on that single idea. There are songs that are going to be much more wordy, and there are going to be songs that are much less wordy or repetitive on the words, like an electronic or dance track would be. But still presented over rock and roll music.
Obviously, you’ll have a lot of fans pulling from The Chariot and Zao, along with other bands you’ve been a part of. They might be expecting more hardcore music. How do you intend to keep those fans around and get them interested in what you’re doing?
Joey: I feel, as a musician, that if you’re enjoying what you’re doing and what you’re playing in your music, you’re going to be attractive to certain people. You’re going to have people that don’t like you; you’re going to have people who do like you. As long as you’re happy with what you’re doing, the crowd will develop. The Chariot might have a crowd that absolutely loves what they do, but might hate everything we do. But then again, some of them might like it. I wouldn’t necessarily say I would go after a Chariot crowd, at all. If it appeals to them, then great, cool. If they see us through a reference to The Chariot, then cool if they like it. That’s a bonus on our side. I think, just let the music speak for itself, and whoever it draws in, great.
Roy: I honestly agree with Joey, specifically for the Zao fans. I know that Zao underwent so many different changes in the last 15 or however many years it’s been. The fan base is somewhat divided. You have some fans that love everything since All Else Has Failed and The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation, when I was in it. You have some fans that love the second generation Zao, which was Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest, and Liberate Te Ex Inferis. Then you’ve got this third generation that’s present and doing their own thing. I think it’s an opportunity to pick up on us and trace that threadline back to where Zao started. And because it has some relation to Zao, some fans may love it. Others may not.
As long as we’re doing something that we enjoy, I think that will be attractive to people. I think this will probably reach a lot of different people that wouldn’t even listen to Zao. Hard to say; people are finicky. I’m finicky. We’ll have to see where it goes.
Jeff: Right now we’ve got close to 20 tracks, and getting those down to one album by process of elimination is part of what we’re going through right now. But if you take Tom Morello and Rage Against The Machine, and then Tom Morello and Audioslave, it’s two totally different formats of music, two totally different presentations. By the time he got to Audioslave, he was able to produce music that touched almost every type of fan throughout an album, to where he brought in a much more diverse fan base, more than what he did with Rage Against The Machine. That’s kind of how I’m going about this. With each track there’s an element, through electronic music or heavy rock or metal. You’re going to find something in there that you like. That’s what we hope to accomplish anyway.
So let’s talk about the record. Do you have a title for it yet? It’s coming out in August, right?
Jeff: Yes, we’ve got a few different titles we’re kicking around. One that’s kind of sticking (with us) Chris came up with — unfortunately he wasn’t able to be on this interview, he’s our frontman and guitarist number two, and an insanely inspiring singer/songwriter. Yesterday I sent him one of the tracks to add vocals, a piece I had actually added a vocal piece to. He thought it should be the title track, called “One.” It’s appropriate too. Still gotta run that past everyone, of course. Working title.
Roy: Yes, August. Late August.
Is it a concept record? Does it have a main theme?
Roy: There’s not really one central theme. We didn’t start with one principle concept and say, “Hey, let’s write around this.” Primarily, I’ve seen myself in the past as a songwriter, and this was an appealing project for me to contribute to because I didn’t necessarily have to do that. With the original approach that Jeff gave me, I saw him the primary producer and all of us were resources. Not that we weren’t equal parts of the band, but we each could contribute our own content to a palette, with which he could build a central vision from. I think that’s worked very well so far. It was wonderful to meet Chris because he is a really talented songwriter and he’s a phenomenal guitarist. I think the rest of us are working in that original process, we’re contributing our own content and Jeff is piecing it together. It maintains a consistency, no matter how it comes out, because we’re all contributing stuff on each track.
How has this process been different from other experiences with other bands and recording?
Joey: Any time I’ve ever been a part of music writing, it’s just started with a guitar. Showing a crazy riff and, let’s do this, how can we rock out on this, put a beat to it. And then vocals come pretty much last. That’s what I’ve been used to, so this is totally all new to me.
Roy: It’s different for me, too. With my own stuff, typically, I’m generating a lot of the content. I work closely with my drummer, but it’s always me in my basement studio with an acoustic guitar and a notebook full of songs that I’ve written. I’ll try to generate stuff that will translate well to a full band, and I work through it with my drummer, build the song and show up to practice and teach the guys. With this, it’s totally different. We’re each a singular component to a working band and we’re each adding our own input. That’s a different approach for me. I don’t have to be in charge of so much. I get to be creative, give my input, and I’ve told Jeff, “Use what you want. I’m not married to any of this.”
On your Facebook page, some of the artists you list as what you like, includes Team Sleep and Atoms For Peace. What is it about those bands that influences you in what you’re making now?
Jeff: I listen to those bands a lot; I love Thom Yorke. I think he’s a very creative individual. Seems to me that whatever he touches musically, it’s thought about pretty heavily. It’s not just thrown out there because he’s got the vein to put something out there and have people buy it. He still seems to go about it from a very genuine standpoint.
I love the Atoms for Peace concept because it’s approached in the exact same way that Minor Crisis is approached. Everybody is remotely connected and still recording together.
Team Sleep is the same way, and I can pretty much buy into anything Chino Moreno touches.
Joey: As for me, with the music I listen to, it’s either really hard or really soft. Sigur Ros or Norma Jean. There’s not really much in between. Working with this kind of project, Jeff’s introduced me to a lot of stuff that I’ve grown to enjoy a lot. It’s still something that’s completely new to me. And it’s refreshing.
Roy: I’m kind of the same place as Joey. Most of the music I listen to tends to be mellow stuff, or singer-songwriter stuff. In the last couple of years, I guess I’ve listened to more Mount Moriah, which is more mellow folk-rock from the Carolinas, and there’s a great local band here in Columbus called The End of the Ocean, and I love them. If you haven’t heard them go check them out. I’m really into stuff like Andrew Bird, Tegan and Sara, The Civil Wars, stuff like that. What I listen to compared to what I play, it’s a pretty big difference.
Jeff: Also Crosses.
If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Roy: The changes in the recent years of the music industry is what I would have wanted to see. The Clear Channels, the big groups that hold all the power — I see that being dispersed by putting technology into the hands of the artist. That’s what I would have loved to have seen 20 years ago. That there wasn’t a singular gateway for an artist to “make it.”
Based on how technology has come down in price, there’s a much lower barrier to entry for musicians. We can buy instruments and our own novice recording gear, set up a recording studio and we’re making music. After creating something with things like YouTube and SoundCloud and other self-publishing platforms, now we can literally expose the entire world to what we’re doing. That was never available in the past.
So what I’ve wanted to see, has happened. A shift in the power of exposure, from media giants to just an ordinary person.
Joey: One of the things I feel strong about, I love live music. There are a lot of kids these days that want to come in there — basically, not to listen to the music, but to beat up on everybody. They’ll get in the pit and, instead of letting the music move them, they’re hitting people, doing this stuff on purpose, just to hurt people. To me, that’s not a part of music.
Back when seeing Zao play before I even knew who Roy was, we were bouncing around and bumping into each other, and if somebody fell down, you picked them back up, laughed about it and kept going. Now there are fights at every show. I was at a For Today concert not too long ago and they had to stop the show in the middle of it because kids kept fighting. That’s sad to me that some kids won’t go to a live show now because of the other kids wanting to bully and pick on them.
In turn, that doesn’t only hurt the ears listening to the music, it hurts the artist, too, because now they’re going to a show and they want a crowd. They don’t want to just play for their moms and dads and friends, but sometimes it turns into that.
Are you interested in putting out more covers and remixes? Maybe even remixing some of your former bands’ songs?
Jeff: Roy and I have actually been kicking around the idea of, every few weeks, putting up a cover, kind of off-the-wall, a total different marketplace, so to speak. Maybe pull out a song from an Outkast album from 1998, maybe something by Cee-Lo. Try and introduce some stuff that we think was quality music from a different time. Put it back out there with a current spin on it.
Joey: From a live stand point, cover songs, to me, enhance a live show because the kids know those songs — especially for a new and upcoming band. I’m not down for all covers all the time, but when you throw out a song they’re going to know — whether they’ve ever met you or not — it just makes it all fun. The kids are still having fun, even if you didn’t write the song. I’m down for throwing out cover songs once in a while.
Roy: I agree. But I think I can speak for Joey when I say that we’ll never cover or remix a Zao or The Chariot song (laughs). Not that I’m opposed to it, but I have too much respect for those guys, I’d probably botch that stuff up now.
Minor Crisis was posted on August 13, 2013 for HM Magazine and authored by Justin Mabee.